Dr. Syed Irfan Hyder – An accomplished father of five children, Dean at CBM, and Founder of L2L Academy, Karachi
I increasingly encounter cases upon cases of children with shattered confidence and broken personality issues, and most of them emanate from the tremendous desire of the mother to relinquish her “Mamta” (motherhood) role and assume the role of a teacher, for which she is singularly unequipped!
A child needs his mother’s motherhood more than her teacher-hood. In their enthusiasm to make their children smart, and under tremendous pressure from peers and schools, mothers in Pakistan are assuming more and more the role of a teacher at the expense of their motherhood role.
Motherhood is a natural role for the mother; however, the role of a teacher has to be learned and does not come naturally to everyone. Teaching requires aptitude, attitude, a soft nature, quest for knowledge, magnanimity, and hosts of teaching skills. These skills are in short supply even in those who have had formal training in teaching.
Why does the conventional teaching role conflict with the role of a mother?
The conventional teaching role is based on continuous monitoring of students: vigilantly guarding the space of the classroom, not allowing the students to talk or laugh, or move about, or go to the washroom, or drink water, or do anything without the teacher’s permission. The teacher tries to make the students totally dependent on her in the name of ‘maintaining class discipline’.
A mother’s role is starkly opposite. She naturally wants to encourage the child to talk and laugh more, be more independent, take charge of his own movements, get potty-trained earlier, go to the washroom on his own, eat and drink independently, socialize with other children, or in other words – not to be dependent on his mother.
A mother stays a mother, whether the child performs well or not, whether the child is smart or dumb. She will not change, no matter the child can hear well or not, can talk or not, can understand or not. She loves the child even when the child is disabled, actually more so, because she knows that she is the only one in the world who will support him.
A mother provides the child her shoulder to cry on when he fails, falls down, cannot climb like the others or is unable to perform like the others. She is the one who holds supreme faith in the potential of the child and trusts in his abilities. Through this tremendous trust, she enables the child to gain the confidence to face failures and rise up to the challenge.
When a mother assumes the role of a conventional teacher, she is forced to relinquish her natural role that provides confidence. She herself begins grading and monitoring the child, and starts passing judgements on his abilities. Yet, worst of all, she begins labeling and humiliating the child by comparing him with other children.
She assumes the role of teacher for twenty-four hours a day, whether it is time for lunch or dinner, whether the child is playing or simply enjoying the time at home by himself and with his toys. The teacher-mother will give no respite to the child or herself. The only thing teacher-mother can talk about with the child is what happened at school, how were the studies, what homework needs to be done, why the school has given this or that report. The teacher-mother has no time for stories. She has no time to enjoy her child with his siblings and friends. It is just a one-dimensional relationship.
If the child does not want to share, wants to stay at home or talk at school, this is constructed by the teacher-mother as a front to her ‘teacher’ role. She starts nagging the child, and if the child does not respond and instead escapes into his shell, she gets worked up. Sometimes, she runs to the school, worried and hyper ventilated, often screaming at the child for not opening up, and tries to put the blame on the school.
Concerned about dealing with such parents, the schools are then forced to give homework upon homework. They start building a dossier of student’s homework and begin to hound the parents. A mother obviously is no match to the paperwork that schools can maintain. Thus, this become a parents-vs-school conflict, where the school continues to collect all the evidence about the child’s non-performance and throws it back at the parent.
The mother, in her enthusiasm to prove to the schools that the child is working and submitting homework on time, starts pressurizing the children further. Tutors are hired for ensuring completion of homework and thus further constraining the time that is available to the children to enjoy at home.
The poor child then becomes a battlefield, on which the school-vs-parents war is fought. No matter what the school is doing, the mother is supposed to be the support and the last refuge for the child. When she entangles with the school and extends the school regime into the home, the child loses this last refuge. Not knowing what to do, he slumps in his own inabilities, loses confidence in his own potential, starts believing in his failures, and becomes a psychological case, all of which is disastrous to the self-worth and confidence.
Why are mothers increasingly assuming the role of a teacher?
Growth of private schools and their presence in every nook and corner of the country is allowing more and more women to have a teaching experience of regimented schools, in which students are often packed in small classrooms. In order to maintain discipline in such constrained spaces, teachers often use coercion of every type to control the students and force them to do their bidding. While waiting to get married, many girls utilize the time to teach at a nearby school, where they catch the stick of the teacher’s role.
What should a mother do?
- Provide unconditional love to the child, in spite of his failures.
- Communicate to the child that she still loves him, irrespective of his performance.
- Trusts his future potential, no matter what others say.
- Give space, time, and margin to the child to grow.
- Ignore his tantrums. (In case of small kids, it’s because of hunger, lack of sleep, or illness.)
- Provide a shoulder to the child to cry on, with no threats or humiliation.
- Shield him in public, when he does wrong, and counsel in private only.
- Never discriminate between children, due to their performance or earnings.
- Assure him of support at all times.
What can a mother do to help herself?
- You may follow more blogposts for further guidance on https://syedirfanhyder.blogspot.com
- See 13 Myths of Schooling and Education: Resources (http://syedirfanhyder.blogspot.com/2014/09/myths-of-schooling-and-education.html)
- Attend workshops on parenting.
- Read books on child psychology and psychology of learning.
- Watch Ted.com videos mentioned in point 2 above
- If all of this seems too difficult, then just hire a tutor and assign him the role of teaching. Adopt the mother’s role. Your lives will be much simpler and easier.